What happened to F1 car launches?
The road to the Formula 1 2020 season began this week with Ferrari, Red Bull, Renault and McLaren unveiling their 2020 title challengers. The rest of the teams will have their car launches over the coming days. So far, it’s been a little lacklustre, all the liveries look the same as last year and the excitement isn’t as palpable as we’ve seen in previous years.
What should car launches be like?
A Formula 1 car launch should be a spectacle that sets the tone for the year. Take a look back at the 90’s and early 2000’s where car launches were at their peak. We had unpredictability, drama and entertainment!
Think back to when the Spice Girls and Jamiroquai unveiled the 1997 McLaren, in an unexpected music concert.
Or when Honda shocked the world unveiling their sponsor free ‘earth car’.
These launches used to pull in an audience. Teams would head to big international cities such as Moscow and Valencia to race their new cars around the tight streets, with the roar of the engine deafening residents.
Where has the excitement gone?
Formula 1 has become very corporate and so too have the car launches. Instead of being unveiled in the back of a delivery plane (Jordan DHL launch in 2002), cars are now unveiled online or at the team’s factory. It’s a shirt and tie event, the drivers come out, pull the cover off the car, answer a few questions and are gone. THEY don’t even look excited, so why should we be?
Budgets are also more of a factor now, which is understandable. Teams don’t want to spend money launching a car, when they could use that money investing in the car. Teams worry they’ll be left red faced if they have a grand reveal and then under perform during the season. See Honda’s earth car above.
How can it be improved?
Modern F1 is often accused of being a little underwhelming, and the current car launches emphasise this. The old ‘all singing and dancing’ car launches may be a thing of the past, but they do need to find a way to engage and excite their audience again. Let’s see the cars being launched in city centres again. We don’t need singers or actors, but let an audience gather and feel like they’re part of the excitement. This is a much better way to start the season off with a bang and potentially bring in new fans.
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